Rice expert: New California law could teach other states about requiring women on corporate boards


David Ruth

Jeff Falk

Rice expert: New California law could teach other states about requiring women on corporate boards

HOUSTON – (Oct. 2, 2018) – California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed a bill into law that makes California the first state to require corporate boards of directors to include women, saying that despite potentially “fatal” legal problems in the measure, it is time to force action.

Credit: 123RF.com/Rice University

The new law requires publicly traded corporations headquartered in California to include at least one woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019 as part of an effort to close the gender gap in business.

Yan “Anthea” Zhang, a professor and the Fayez Sarofim Vanguard Chair of Strategic Management at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, is available to comment on this development and related gender issues in business.

“People prefer working with others who are similar to themselves,” Zhang said. “As a result, corporate board diversity — not only gender diversity but also diversity in other dimensions — tends to progress slowly without external pushes and/or conscious efforts.”

In this sense, California’s policy can accelerate the progress of gender diversity, Zhang said. “However, such a requirement of women representation on corporate boards works only if a pipeline of qualified female candidates has been developed,” Zhang said. “California has a large economy as well as a large and well-educated workforce of both males and females, thus it is a great place to start with such a requirement. Other states can learn a great deal from its experimentation.”

Zhang’s areas of specialization include CEO succession and dismissal, foreign direct investment and technology entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Among her research projects has been a study of women in Chinese boardrooms, which highlighted the progress made by women in Chinese companies compared with Western companies and argued against legislative quotas.

To schedule an interview with Zhang, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


Follow the Jones Graduate School of Business on Twitter @Rice_Biz.

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Related materials:

Yan “Anthea” Zhang bio: https://business.rice.edu/person/yan-anthea-zhang

Jones Graduate School of Business: http://business.rice.edu

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.